In 1924, the western film “Notch Number One” was released. Its release marks one of the earliest instances of product placement in a film. The product? Weed … cannabis … reefer … the devil’s lettuce … the colloquial “Marihuana”... is featured in a not so pretty light. Check it out.
Then commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Henry J. Anslinger despised all substances but he really hated cannabis. Despite being “the life of the party” Anslinger was on a mission to federally outlaw cannabis and had a few strokes of genius on the road to prohibition. One stroke of genius? Using film to depict cannabis unfavorably. And it worked.
The negative portrayal of cannabis in “Notch Number One” and other anti-drug propaganda coupled with “Reefer Madness” led to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The act didn’t make cannabis illegal but it made it so expensive to produce and purchase that production slowed and the crop was no longer profitable.
Are we all victims of product placement? Are we all that easily manipulated?
In this week’s Manipulating The Masses podcast we discuss the last 100 years of product placement, chat about the current state of cannabis marketing and branding and forecast where we see cannabis in the next 10 years.
Listen to the podcast on Spotify